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Wild West, Man From U.N.C.L.E., I Love Lucy on Blu-ray, DVD
Robert Vaughn, left, William Shatner and David McCallum in a black-and-white episode of "The Man From U.N.C.L.E.: The Complete First Season," now on DVD. - photo by Chris Hicks
New DVDs released this week include a British documentary miniseries about The Wild West and the first season of The Man From U.N.C.L.E., while the second season of I Love Lucy lands on Blu-ray.

The Wild West With Ray Mears (Athena/DVD, 2014, two discs, eight episodes, text profiles of women of the West; 16-page booklet). Southern Utah desert landscapes are a highlight of this eight-part documentary miniseries from British wilderness expert Ray Mears, who traces pioneer treks through the Appalachian Mountains and across the Rockies.

Mears is affable, and the show is interesting and beautifully photographed, though theres nothing new here for history buffs. And he tends to lean toward the more sensational and therefore better-known historical incidents, such as the Donner Party, Butch Cassidy and the Geronimo wars.

The half-hour episodes are The First Settlers, Furs and the Mountain Men, The Wagon Trains, Homesteaders and Cowboys, Plains, Indians & Buffalo, Gold and the Boomtowns, Bandits and The Desert Indians.

The Man From U.N.C.L.E.: The Complete Season 1 (Warner/DVD, 1964-65, b/w, 10 discs, 29 episodes; four-page booklet). Just in time for the Man From U.N.C.L.E. reboot (in theaters next Friday) comes the first season of this campy spy spoof, a cult-favorite TV series from the 1960s starring Robert Vaughn, David McCallum and Leo G. Carroll. Guests include Anne Francis, Robert Culp, Carroll OConnor, a young Kurt Russell, and William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy in the same episode.

This is a bare-bones first-season set for those who couldnt afford the complete-series box seven years ago, so there are no bonus features. For example, you wont find the extended color pilot here, though it is available in the series set and in the U.N.C.L.E. movies set. To my mind, however, this season is actually superior to the color seasons that followed. (And note how McCallum goes from supporting player to partner as the season progresses.)

I Love Lucy: Ultimate Season 2 (CBS/Paramount/Blu-ray, 1952-53, b/w, five discs, 31 episodes, options for watching with or without original commercials, audio commentary, colorized episode, three-episode movie, clips from Stars in the Eye and The Red Skelton Show, My Favorite Husband radio episodes, bloopers, text biographies/production notes, photo gallery). This remastered Blu-ray release is obviously for die-hard Lucy fans and the episodes do look great. Included is the classic chocolates-on-the-conveyor-belt episode, as well as the arc of shows about Lucys pregnancy and early motherhood.

Rick Sebaks Summer Fun (PBS/DVD, 1996-99, four films). Four amusing nostalgic PBS documentaries from the quirky oeuvre of Rick Sebak, who refers to them as scrapbook documentaries. Included here are Shore Things, An Ice Cream Show, Great Old Amusement Parks and A Hot Dog Program.

When Calls the Heart: Heart of the Family (Shout!/DVD, 2015). Another Season 2 feature-length episode from the Hallmark cable series about a 19th-century schoolteacher (Erin Krakow) torn between her love for Canadian Mountie Jack (Daniel Lissing) and a former suitor who comes to town.

Descendants (Disney/DVD, 2015, featurettes, bloopers). Disneys musical riff on Once Upon a Time focuses exclusively on characters from the studios animated films, led by Kristin Chenoweth as Maleficent. Or more correctly, the focus is on their teenage offspring. Think High School Musical with the children of Maleficent, Jafar, Cruella de Vil and the Evil Queen facing off against the kids of Belle and the Beast, the Fairy Godmother, Princess Aurora, Cinderella, Mulan and Dopey. Directed and choreographed by High School Musical veteran Kenny Ortega.

Murdoch Mysteries: Season 8 (itv/Acorn/DVD, 2014-15, five discs, 18 episodes, featurettes, photo gallery). This Popular Canadian series with Yannick Bisson as the title character, is about a Toronto detective and pioneer in crime-solving technology during the turn of the 20th century. This season, a dockyard gang and the womens suffrage movement take center stage as the show notes its 100th episode. Oh yes, and Murdoch finally marries Dr. Ogden.

The Comeback (HBO/DVD, 2005-14, four discs, 21 episodes, deleted scenes, audio commentaries, featurette). Beware of typical HBO R-rated content in Lisa Kudrows found-footage reality-show satire, which has her playing a D-list actress who was once an A-lister, reduced to allowing cameras to follow her 24/7. Guests include Seth Rogan, Sara Gilbert, Chelsea Handler, Sean Hayes, Marilu Henner, Jane Kaczmarek, George Lopez, Jay Leno and Conan OBrien. This DVD set is comprised of the 2005 first season and the 2014 second season. A third season has been confirmed.

Strike Back: Season Three (Cinemax/Blu-ray/DVD/Digital, 2012, three discs, 10 episodes, audio commentary, featurettes). This British-American co-production is a wartime action series based on a novel by Chris Ryan. This season the Section 20 counterterrorism unit led by an American soldier (Sullivan Stapleton) and a British spy (Philip Winchester) continues to pursue threats around the world. (Another cable show with R-level content.)

The Affair: Season One (Showtime/CBS/Paramount/DVD, 2014, four discs, 10 episodes, featurettes; episodes of Happyish, Ray Donovan and Madam Secretary). While vacationing on Long Island with his wife and kids, a New York schoolteacher (Dominic West) is attracted to a married waitress (Ruth Wilson) and they soon begin the title tryst. Oh yes, and theres a murder. (R-rated content alert.)

Deep Sea Blues (MVD/Blu-ray, 2009, bonus feature: All Jams On Deck). Unique concert film about Roger Nabers Legendary Rhythm & Blues Cruise (aka Woodstock of the Waves), an American shipboard music festival featuring more than 70 acts, including Taj Mahal, The Fabulous Thunderbirds, Buckwheat Zydeco, Commander Cody Band, etc. The bonus film is a 2011 blues jam with Elvin Bishop, Johnny and Edgar Winter, Kim Wilson, Coco Montoya, etc.

When the Checks Stop Coming In (Cinedigm/DVD/Digital, 2015, deleted scenes). This is a documentary exploration of the lives of black celebrities in sports and entertainment that fall from fame and fortune to poverty after earning too much money too fast. Toni Braxton, Wesley Snipes, MC Hammer and others are shown as examples of those who failed to be aware of where the money went and how their advisors handled it.

Frontline: The Trouble With Chicken (PBS/DVD, 2015). This hourlong documentary episode of Frontline looks into the salmonella bacteria, focusing on an outbreak in poultry that affected more than 600 people over 16 months, but which U.S. food safety officials virtually ignored.

Looney Tunes: Rabbits Run (Warner/DVD, 2015, cartoon movie, 2011 Looney Tunes Show pilot, four 2010 short cartoons). The main draw (no pun intended) is, of course, the brand-new titular animated feature (75 minutes), which has Lola Bunny hailing cabbies Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck to get her to Paris. She hopes to unveil her unique perfume, unaware that an ingredient can render invisibility, and Foghorn Leghorn, Elmer Fudd, Yosemite Sam and even Marvin the Martian are in hot pursuit to obtain it.

Alpha and Omega: Family Vacation (Lionsgate/DVD/Digital/On Demand, 2015). The latest entry in the cartoon franchise is this 44-minute movie about the title wolves heading to a resort area for their first vacation with the pups, only to find that trappers are on their trail.

Doras Double-Length Adventures (Nickelodeon/Paramount/DVD, 2001-05, three discs, nine episodes, featurettes, sing-alongs, photo galleries, interactive games). This triple-disc collection contains three previously issued DVDs: Doras Fairytale Adventure, Dance to the Rescue and Pirate Adventure.

Dora and Friends: Doggie Day! (Nickelodeon/Paramount/DVD, 2014, four episodes). This multilingual DVD has the title episode, along with Dora Saves Opera Land, Puppet Theater and Magic Land!

Peppa Pig: School Bus Trip (Scholastic/DVD, 2004-11; mini-book). Peppa, George, Mummy and Daddy have adventures related to heading back to school in episodes from various seasons of the British animated series for preschoolers.